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Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation

2012.07.12
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Entrance. This is a stunning building - built specifically to house fascinating exhibits from across the Arab world. The result is a light, cool exhibition space that encourages wandering and allows the visitor to enjoy each artifact without feeling the need to "move on". You never feel hurried or bored. There is a small charge AED10 per adult, but this is a small price to pay for the experience offered inside.
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The items on display show a world far removed from the one the West teachesabout. At school we are taught that th Chinese invented gunpowder for example, but I don't recall being taught that it was an Arab that invented the ship's compass - a design copied by Western seamen and still in use today. This is just one example of the advances made in Islamic culture many years before the Europeans did the same. Indeed many of these discoveries were copied by Western scientists. The museum has many examples of this ranging from architectural design, geometry, astronomy to complex movements in water clocks.
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The interior has a high arched roof with displays along the centre and specialist rooms on either side. These side rooms are on two floors giving a total of 16 exhibition spaces in addition to the central hall. Each one is fascinating in it's own right, but the pottery and glass work is of particular note and my 4 year old loved the guns and swords as only a young boy can!
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Above the centre of the museum is a huge, gold dome; making the building easilly identifiable. Within the dome is this amazing roof - a mosaic of deep blue tiles depicting the heavens and the signs of the zodiac located around a central star. Each sign is complete with its own constellation. The effect is breathtaking. The room below is a plush coffee shop with soft, easy chairs and subdued lighting. Unfortunately on the two occasions I have been to this museum the coffee chop has been shut...the only disappointment of the visit.
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Second visit to this wonderful museum and as enjoyable as the first. It can be found on the Corniche, adjacent to the Art Area.
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